Sheila Horvitz was interviewed by Mark Gerstein on November 10, 2011 at the Yiddish Book Center.
Sheila Horvitz, a lawyer and former teacher, recounts her life growing up in a strong Yiddish atmosphere in New York City in the 1950s. She describes her mother and grandmother’s emigration from a shtetl in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War in 1921, and she shows documents pertaining to their immigration and arrival in the United States.
Sheila grew up in an orthodox home and she vividly recounts her experiences in synagogue during the high holidays. Sheila’s parents were members of the Workmen’s Circle and they sent her to I.L. Peretz schools where she received a Yiddish and secular education, an experience that Sheila recalls quite fondly. Her mother considered herself a Yiddishist, playing a key role in keeping Yiddish alive in the community. Sheila’s mother created the “Yiddish Vinkl,” or Yiddish Corner at their neighborhood synagogue.
Sheila warmly recalls the excitement and intimacy of life in New York City in the 1950s. As a young teacher in Boston, Sheila also remembers how she experienced anti-Semitism and racism from her co-workers and community members during the tumultuous events of the 1960s. Sheila shares with us some of the Yiddish songs that were important to her mother. Finally, Sheila expresses her concerns regarding passing down Jewish values and culture to subsequent generations.
To learn more about the Wexler Oral History Project, visit: http://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/tell-your-story
To cite this interview: Sheila Horvitz Oral History Interview, interviewed by Mark Gerstein, Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project, Karmazin Recording Studio, Yiddish Book Center, November 10, 2011. Video recording, http://archive.org/details/SheilaHorvitz10Nov2011YiddishBookCenter ( [date accessed] )